A wrenching story of abuse and neglect appears on the op-ed page of Thursday’s AJC. And State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-DeKalb) makes the case for reviewing how much medication is used to control the behavior of children in foster care.
Oliver writes about a little boy who endured a crushing family tragedy and was abandoned by his parents while in first grade. Now he’s 13, living in an institution and heavily medicated with psychotropic drugs.
His story is one of more than 200 cases detailed in the Cold Case Project, sponsored by the Supreme Court of Georgia’s Committee on Justice for Children. The project’s goal is to improve life for abused and neglected children. One of the findings is that some foster children are over-medicated for discipline and control issues.
Oliver is now sponsoring HB 23, the Foster Children’s Psychotropic Medication Monitoring Act. It requires that an independent medical team review mental health treatment programs for children in state care every six months. It forces DHS to create regulations for the use of drugs, and get consent from children over 14.
This is not just a Georgia problem, it’s a national scandal. A 7-year old foster child in Florida, who was heavily medicated, hanged himself last year. A 2008 study in Texas showed that foster kids got three times more psychiatric drugs than other children.